Saturday, December 27, 2008

Counterfeit by Christine Leclerc

Love like flash light in a subway tunnel
where the train ain’t gonna go no more.

One of the first books published by Vancouver’s CUE Books (Capilano University Editions) is Vancouver poet Christine Leclerc’s first trade collection, Counterfeit (2008). A compelling collection with some very interesting moments, Counterfeit works elements of theatre-script dabbled through the text, between poems of (deceptively) straight statements. LeClerc’s poems move in so many directions while managing to stand still, and seem to move so quickly that they remain fixed in place, but shimmer.

The Swimmer’s Office

The shivers run like train tracks
into your—

Metal fillings were used to build this—

A toy poodle pretends to urinate as it calculates
The perimeter of your office.

Your mother had a real dog.
Another note on the windowsill…


Your theory is that someone
put it there.

Sometimes the note says:
copper confuses.

At others: You seem coherent.

Or: Are you reading this upside down?

You’re pretty sure it was the same note. And the same mother all along.
The same town and summer. You swam front crawl,
better and better. But swam it slow.

It is raining at the pool now,
above and below.
I don’t know which I hate more,
words or water

Her Counterfeit might feel less like a book-length entity than a collection made out of a range of disparate pieces, but one that has a number of strong individual pieces that shine through, and I very much like how she manages to work the line of direct statement into something about as indirect as one can manage. If these straightforward lines are simply that, then there is no such thing. If contemporary writing works its way to filter the world into, through or even against meaning, Leclerc’s Counterfeit manages in its sly way to present an argument for the range of all three. These are good poems that are good and sometimes even great, sly in their approach, humble in their expectation and formidable in their quest for and between meaning.

When I Left

When I left, the house was quiet.

No more talking or cutting strips
of paper into strip malls
or factory direct liquidation centers.

When I left, the body had a ponytail, and a pony-tail-making mother.

I left, but there were still teeth to brush, pages to turn, curlers to set, and
photos to pose for. There was much blood to pump, and many years for a
body to move through.

Sometimes the body sat looking out onto the desert, alley, snowdrift;
on a chair, blanket, bed, stoop, couch, bike, curb, boat, back,

Thoughts rarely came.

When I left, I saw myself seldom and longing
became longing with nothing to long for.

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